Lhasa to Kathmandu – Riding the Roof of the World

Highlights

  • 1,195km / 742 miles – 90% On Road
  • Rugged road / cyclocross / gravel bike adventure
  • One Strava Heatmap line NEVER forgotten!
  • 25 days / 24 nights
  • Tackle three 5,000m Passes
  • Cross the Himalayas 
  • The ultimate high altitude ride

Number of Days: 25
2019 Land Only Price From: £4,195
Grade: Spicy
Group Size: 9-14 
View: Kit List

Dates

Thurs 18 Apr – Sun 25 May 2019 Ready To Roll
Thurs 12 Sept – Sun 6 Oct 2019 Ready To Roll
Thurs 16 Apr – Sun 10 May 2020 Ready To Roll

Dates are available for Private Groups by arrangement – contact us for details

Trip Overview

Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu

Today you’ll be met on your arrival at the airport in Kathmandu by a member of the Rather Be Cycling staff before transferring the short distance to our 3* hotel in the city.  Groups normally arrive on different flights so our first opportunity to meet up as a complete group will be over our evening meal together in the hotel.  Arriving in Nepal for the first time, or returning on a second (or more) visit, is always a glorious and fantastic assault on the senses.  Our hotel is located in the bustling and historic district of Thamel, which is an amazing place to explore.

Overnight in Kathmandu in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: D

Day 2 Out of the Valley ….

Due to the paperwork involved in preparing our visas for Tibet our cycling adventures start with a couple of days of riding in and around the Kathmandu Valley and rim.

Today starts with us building up our bikes together in the hotel’s courtyard, so there’s tools and help on hand if required, and discussing the journey that lies ahead of us.  Once everyone is ready we leave the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and ride out, via Boudhanath, to the historic village of Bhaktapur.  This ancient Newa village is situated on the Eastern side of Kathmandu and it is famous for it’s temples and courtyards which mirror the magnificent mountains.  After lunch we climb up on tarmac to the hill station village of Nagarkot, which is at approx. 1,900m altitude giving us a height gain today of approx. 500m

Tonight we stay in Nagarkot and we are rewarded with sublime views. 

38km / 24 miles. Overnight in Nagarkot in a 2/3* Hotel.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 3 Himalayan Sunrise

Those that are early risers will catch the sunrise over the Himalayas – even if you’re not a Yogi there are few things as memorable as a Sun Salutation overlooking the Himalayas.  If the visibility is good you’ll even catch your first glimpse of Mount Everest.  Not bad before breakfast.

Today we have a relaxed mixed surface day to Namo Budha (1,750m) riding mostly on unsealed jeep tracks through small villages giving us an insight into rural Nepali life.

42km / 26 miles. Overnight in Namo Budha in a 2/3* Hotel.  Meals included B,L&D

Day 4 Rollin’ back to Kathmandu

Today is another mixed surface day as we ride back to Kathmandu from Namo Budha.  Once we reach our hotel we repack our bikes and kit ready for our flight up to Lhasa.  Tibet tomorrow!

55km / 34 miles. Overnight in Kathmandu in a 3* Hotel.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 5 Hopping over The Hump

It’s an early start today as we take the morning flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa.  This has to be one of the most spectacular flights on the planet and, if conditions allow, we should get an incredible view of Mount Everest.  From Gonggkar airport we transfer by minibus to the group hotel in Lhasa (3,660m).  It cannot be stressed enough how important it is today to spend our time relaxing and hydrating (with water) and allow our bodies to get used to the altitude.  Fascinating that Lhasa is and as itching to explore as we will be … today is the cornerstone of the foundation to successful altitude acclimatisation.

Overnight in Lhasa in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 6 Sightseeing in Lhasa

Acclimatisation is the key to a successful and enjoyable ride back to Kathmandu, so we spend the next couple of days allowing our bodies to adjust as we explore this incredible city.  In the morning we walk to the Jokhang Temple and join the line of Tibetan pilgrims attending to their daily rituals.  There is additional time available to explore the pilgrims circuit in a clockwise direction around the temple, known as the Barkhor, which is lined with stalls of local merchandise.  In the afternoon we go to the spectacular Potala Palace which presides over the city of Lhasa.

Overnight in Lhasa in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 7 Acclimatisation Ride to Sera Monastery

Today we have the option of a short ride out to Sera Monastery which is on the Northern outskirts of the city.  This monastery is one of the three great Gelukpa monasteries.  Debates among monks on the Buddhist Doctrines are integral to the learning process here and this debating system is exclusive to the monastery.  It is fascinating to watch the monk’s gestures as they try to illustrate their points.  We ride back to the hotel and the afternoon is spent relaxing and preparing for the adventure ahead.

Overnight in Lhasa in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 8 Hit the Road

Finally, our first full day of riding!  After any last minute preparations we set off along the smooth tarmac out of the city and towards the base of the Khamba La pass.  Today is mostly flat allowing you to spin out those legs and get dialed in for the days to come.  En-route we take the opportunity to visit the Drepung Monastery.  The crew will have set up the camp ready for our arrival at the foot of the pass.

86km / 53 miles. Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 9 Oh La La – The Khamba La

Oh la la, is the prevalent thought this morning as we have breakfast under the towering Khamba La Pass (4,747m).  Today’s challenge is the first of our major climbs and it’s not to be underestimated.  The 25km of ascent should be taken at a very relaxed pace and in an easy gear as we allow our bodies to continue adapting to the increasingly less dense air.  From here we can see the sparkling blue of Yamdrok Lake, then we descend to the Southern side of the pass for lunch and then onto the village of Ngartse.

72km / 45 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 10 Tail Wind Welcome

An energy filled breakfast is on the menu this morning as we prepare to climb our first 5,000m pass, the Karo La (5,050m).  We continue on the undulating road (mostly downhill) for a well deserved lunch.  We set up camp at the base of the Simi La and prepare for tomorrow’s climb.  

69kms / 43 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our camp.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 11 A “Wee Pass” Day – Only 4,330m
This morning we wait for the sun to rise, enjoy a warming breakfast then get ready to ride.  Today we are crossing a ‘smaller’ pass, the Sima La (4,330m).  After which it is mostly downhill to the village of Gyantse (4,055m). Today is  fairly short day and we spend the afternoon visiting the Kumbum Monastery and enjoy the relative luxury of a hotel tonight.

36kms / 22 miles.  Overnight in a Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 12 Flat Plateau

Heading Westwards we ride to the city of Shigatse, which is Tibet’s second largest city and sits at an altitude of 3,950m.  With a flat spin and no hills to speak of ahead we cover a bigger distance today and we should reach our destination in about 4-5 hours of pedal time. In the afternoon there is time to explore the Tashilhunpo Monastery and catch up on washing and general admin before heading back into the wilds tomorrow towards the Big E.

93km / 58 miles.  Overnight in a Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 13 Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Leaving the city behind we ride along roads that bear witness to the dry, stark, beautiful and huge skied Tibetan landscape.  The road gradually climbs throughout the day until we reach the camp which is at the base of the Tsho La Pass.   We rest up at our camp (4,290m) ready for the next challenge.

105km / 65 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 14 Fit and Acclimatised

By now, we’ve plenty of miles in our legs and we should be well acclimatised to the altitude so the climb of the Tsho La (4,500m) should feel surprisingly easy.  Gliding down the descent we head onto the town of Lhatse and after our lunch stop we start the climb up to our camp at the base of the Gyamtsho-La.

66km / 41 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 15 Team Sky High

The Gyamtsho-La (5,248m) is the highest pass on our journey along the Friendship Highway and a steady effort is required over it’s 13kms of climbing.  We are rewarded with spectacular views of the Himalayas including Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu.  We wrap up warm for the descent which leads us onto our camp beneath the Pang La Pass at Chay Village.

68km / 42 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 16 Everesting

It is about 18km to the top of the Pang La Pass (5,150m) and, depending on the weather, we may get our first full view of the North Side of Everest and an uninterrupted view of the Himalayan chain from the pass.  After the descent we will all regroup at the village of Tashi Dzong where we take lunch.  

After lunch we ride the 45km to Rongbuk.  En-route Everest becomes more impressive at each turn until we reach our camp at 5,000m.  It’s a long and challenging ride today but it’s oh so special.

105km / 65 miles Ride Distance.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B, L & D

Day 17 … And Relax

Today we plan to mostly put our feet up and absorb the magnificence of Everest and the culture surrounding the Rongbuk Monastery.  There is the option of a short ride up to Everest Base Camp, 8km each way, if you, and your bike, can tackle rough roads and the altitude.

16km / 10 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 18 Hot Springs at Tingri

We leave Rongbuk and the mountains shimmering in the morning sun as we retrace our wheeltracks for a short distance towards Tashi Dzong.  We cut the corner over the Lamma La and eventually after a wild morning of riding we are back onto some much desired tarmac.  We ride past Tingri to Tsamda (4,385m).  If there is time we will visit the Hot Springs at Tingri which present the ideal opportunity for those aching limbs recover whilst looking at distant views of Everest and Cho Oyu – does it get better than that?

80km /  50miles. Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 19 It’s Windy Out 

Leaving camp refreshed today we have a relatively short spin to the camp at the base of the Lalung La (4,555m) and the village of Sumdo.  Headwinds are prevalent in this region so we tend to run a low speed chaingang taking it in turns to battle the winds and give everyone a rest, in turn, in the slipstream.  Depending on the group’s decision we may opt for a late lunch when we reach the camp or break the day into two halves and savour the spectacular scenery.

56km / 35 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 20 Yaktastic

With blood as thick as a yak’s we tackle head-on the Lalung La (5,050m) which is only 9km from camp.  From the top we enjoy a descent to start with and then continue our journey with down towards the camp at Paiku Tso-Lake (4,595m).  With the last of the 5,000m passes under our belts, its all downhill from here … well sort of!

70km / 43 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 21 Plateau Pedlars

  Fit and acclimatised plateau pedlars as we are now the main challenge today is likely to be the wind as we ride to Kyirong Dzonkha.

47km / 30 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 22 Yeti Spotting

Today we ride from Kyirong Dzonkha to Kyirong as we now begin our journey towards the new border crossing point back into Nepal.  Just the Himalaya to wind our way through and over.  Tonight our accommodation is in a traditional Tea House.

67km / 42 miles.  Overnight at a Tea House.  Meals Included B,L&D

Day 23 Going Down, Down, Down

Today we leave the hardest part of the adventure behind us as we cross the Border and drop down into the warmer climes of Nepal.  As we lose altitude, all the hard work of the last couple of weeks spins out of our legs and we drop down, down, down to Sera and our camp by the River Trisuli (only 900m).  Being Nepal there is the odd section of Nepali Flat today … the odd uphill here and there.

100km / 62 miles Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meals Included B,L&D

Day 24 What Goes Back Up, Must Come Back Down Again

It wouldn’t be a proper adventure without a sting in the tail would it?!?  There’s still some climbing to do today to get back up and over the rim of the Kathmandu Valley.  After lunch at the top we glide back downhill and into the, now familiar, hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and the haven of our hotel.

We repack the bikes in advance of the return journey home and head out to celebrate our epic achievement.

This is one line on your Strava Heatmap that you’ll NEVER forget …

50km / 31 miles.  Overnight in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B&L

Day 25 Departure Day

Our trip has come to an end and you have the day free to look around the city until it’s time for your transfer to Kathmandu Airport for your return flight home.

Meal/s Included: B


What’s Included

■ 24 nights accommodation* as detailed in the trip overview. (10 Hotel, 13 Camping, 1 Tea House).
■ We use a 3 star hotel when staying in Kathmandu (3 nights).  When cycling we use a mix of full service camping and Hotel/Lodge/Teahouse accommodation. 
■ All meals as detailed in the trip overview.  Meal Key: B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner.
■ Kathmandu Airport transfers to / from group hotel on Arrival & Departure Days only.
■ Kathmandu to Lhasa flights.
■ Airport transfer in Lhasa.
■ All baggage transfers in our baggage vehicle/s.
■ The services of a Nepali Biking Guide.
■ The services of a, UK qualified, Rather Be Cycling Trip Leader – ALL GROUP SIZES.
■ The services of a baggage vehicle driver / assistant & support crew.
■ Access to commonly required tools and mechanical advice & assistance.**

* All accommodation is allocated and priced on a twin occupancy basis. Please contact us for Single Occupancy Rates.

** Please note that whilst we are prepared for the most likely mechanical issues we cannot carry spare parts / tools to deal with all eventualities. Please ensure your bike is fit for purpose before your trip – we are happy to advise you.

What’s Not Included

■ International and / or Domestic Flight/s to and from the start (joining) point and end (departure) points of the trip.
■ Any excess baggage charges relating to outbound and / or return flights.
■ Any excess baggage charges on the flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
■ Nepal Visa/s as required.
■ Tibet Visa/s (USA Nationals US$205 / Other Nationals US$120)  – NB: We arrange this Visa for you whilst we are in Nepal, but it is additional to the Trip Cost and is subject to variation
■ Travel Insurance – compulsory.
■ All drinks e.g. bottled water, coffees, teas, alcohol, etc.
■ Spare / replacement bicycle parts & accessories e.g. tyres, tubes, wheels, etc.
■ Other expenses e.g. souvenirs, additional food, etc.
■ Tips – at your discretion but encouraged and culturally appropriate for the local guide and crew.
■ Certain meals on certain days – please refer to trip overview.
■ Your spending money.

Bike Spec

■ This is a trip which is ideally suited to a Rugged Road, Cyclocross, Gravel or Adventure bike fitted with suitable on/off road touring tyres or a Road / Touring Bike that can take a 700x35c tyre.  A Mountain Bike can also be used, running on slick mtb tyres.

■ The governing factor is the width of tyres that your frame will accept. It needs to accept a robust 700x35c tyre – such as Schwalbe’s Marathon – which provides a good air pocket, strong sidewalls & tread and still rolls well.  Lighter riders may prefer to use a slightly narrower tyre whilst heavier riders are advised to use a slightly larger volume tyre.

■ Whilst 90% of this trip is on tarred road – the nature of the terrain is such that sections of the road can be affected by landslides, etc. Hence the need for robust tyres.

■ Gearing giving a bottom gear of between 30″ and 40″ is suggested for this trip.

■ Your bike should be fully serviced, and thoroughly tested, before your holiday.

■ Many modern bikes have bike specific parts (e.g. gear hangers) and their design means that that may not / do not accept generic spare parts.  Please ensure you bring any crucial bike specific spare parts with you.